« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
THE NATIVE CHURCHES.
The flow of Divine mercy has also reached the native Church, and in many directions a most gratifying response has come to the call to be
up and doing" in the vineyard of the Lord. Thus, the Rev. G. Kerry writes :"I am glad to see signs of greater religious life and activity among the people than I have ever witnessed. At Khari and Lukhyantipore there has been a waking-up of the people. Sunday-schools have been set on foot, special prayer meetings established, and in other ways signs of more vigorous life are apparent.” As the immediate result, there have been twenty-two additions to the Churches, while, at other stations, as at the small station of Tambulda, where seventeen persons have been baptized, there are similar signs of the Lord's blessing. Our home missionary, Romanath Chowdhry, tells us that these spontaneously-called meetings for prayer have, for the most part, been projected and carried out by the young men of the different villages. The women have also shared in the blessiug, and have held like meetings amongst themselves. The inquirers far exceed in number those who have been welcomed into the fellowship of the faithful ; while it is the missionary's joy to preach the “wonderful story of redeeming love" to hundreds and thousands of attentive hearers.
In the southern district of Jessore, the Rev. G. C. Dutt informs us that he receives hearty and sportaneous aid from some twelve brethren from the different churches, who, on going into the Sanderbunds to labour for their food, took with them a thousand tracts and gospels, to distribute among the woodcutters, who come from all parts. Some 5,000 persons were gathered together, to whom the message of peace was there made known. They were persuaded by the brethren to cease from work on the Lord's Day. With one exception, revival prayer meetings have been held in all the churches under Mr. Dutt's charge, and he reports that they have been of a nature quite unprecedented in their history.
Writing of the large and important mission in the district of Backergunge, which now embraces 1,176 members in its numerous churches, the Rev. A. McKenna says: -“ The churches have prospered in the past year, difficulties notwithstanding. The number of baptisms is one hundred and twenty. The vitality of Christian life in our midst has been attested by many pleasing facts. The self-propagative power of Christianity in this district seems to distinguish it from most others, and certainly bears
witness to life of some kind.” The gratifying and triumphant deaths of some of the people prove how strong is the grasp with which they have * laid hold” on eternal life.
From Delhi, in the north-west, we have similar pleasing facts reported. “These,” says the Rev. J. Smith, " are seasons of refreshing to us, and repay us years of toil. The Lord's arm is not shortened that He cannot save, There is a sound of abundance of rain; the Lord open our hearts to receive it. Subha Chund has just returned from a month's preaching tour, and is full of hope as to the spread of the Gospel We have been pleading for a blessing such as has been realised in Scotland, and we expect to get it.” A few incidents of a recent tour may be quoted to illustrate Mr. Smith's remarks :-—"At Furreedabad we found about twenty-five Bible-readers. The four baptized Christians are doing well, others are preparing for baptism, and we preached to large crowds in the bazaar. Eleven native Christians reside at Pul Wul Ganga Das, who ten years ago was a lad in the Purana Killah school bas been teaching some in other villages in the neighbourhood, and the Gospel appears to be spreading. The district is full of hope. At Hatteen, a small market town, the crowds came crushing on to hear the Word of Life. There are three or four learning to read the Bible, and the people are most anxious for a teacher, half of whose cost they will give. At Hareetal we found a class of seven reading the New Testament with Gumani, one of our old Delhi members. Nearly the whole village tarned out to meet us, and up to sleeping time there was not a moment's rest. Crowd succeeded crowd, and at last I laid down and went to sleep, leaving the place nearly full of people. When they retired I cannot tell. We were bountifully supplied with food, and both man and beast cared for with the utmost kindness, without any cost. There are ten candidates for baptism. Gumani came here of his own accord. He has visited the neighbouring towns, and has created an interest in Christianity in at least half-a-dozen places. The Committee are sure that all their friends will heartily respond to Mr. Smith's closing words :-" I hope the English churches will be stirred up to especial prayer
for India." One characteristic of these revival services should be noted, and that is the large use made of sacred song in the assemblies of Christians, and also in the services held in the open air. Romanath Chowdhry says :"On one occasion, after the meeting, the young men whom I took with me, sang some of our beautiful hymns, which so deeply affected the
people that a great number spontaneously joined in the singing." " Speaking of the melas he has attended, the Rev. J. G. Gregson writes :“This year we introduced a good deal of singing as well as preaching into our work, which not only attracted the people, but made a visible impression upon them; in fact, I never saw a heathen crowd so affected before. They listened with great earnestness, and went away saying, “The Padre Sahib is singing the praises of Jesus.” Such a method of extolling the gods they serve is common enough among the worshippers at the temples, at their festivals, and at their great fairs. Why should not Christians in a similar way commend the glories of the Redeemer to those who gather to hear His Word ? “Much good,” says the Rev. G. H. Rouse, “has been done in this way;" and he mentions a case in which a band of Christian peasants went from village to village singing and talking of Christ. It may be interesting to state that a large proportion of the hymns in use are the product of the taste and skill of our European and Native brethren.
A somewhat new feature of the missionary work in India, on which the Committee reported at some length last year, is the extent to which the Scriptures and other religious works are sold, and the growing desire of the people to possess the Word of God, evinced by their willingness to purchase it at the moderate price imposed by the missionaries. This characteristic has been strongly apparent in the past year. It will be sufficient on this point to quote from the report of the Rev. J. D. Bate, of Allahabad “Saying nothing as to the number of such publications sold during the year by our colporteurs, I have myself sold not less than five thousand tracts and Gospels in the vernaculars in these provinces. To me it is simply astounding to note how, after listening to the most uncompromising denunciation of idolatry and of the special sins of the people, and to such an exposition of the Scripture doctrine, as that there is no salvation in any other than the God-appointed Redeemer revealed to us in the New Testament, the people purchase from me for money the publications I offer for sale, knowing (as they do perfectly well) that the only drift of these works is to fasten home to their minds more securely the truths under which they have been wincing. I submit that the fact is weighted with enco
couragement, significance, and hope."
The Mission Press in Calcutta has been kept diligently employed throughout the year in printing large editions of the various versions of the Holy Scriptures, prepared by the missionaries of the Society. The last revision of the Bengali Bible by the Rev. Dr. Wenger, was finished at press in April, 1874. It has been issued in two editions, one in demy quarto for the Calcutta Bible Society, containing only the text, the other in super royal quarto for the Bible Translation Society, containing marginal readings, and parallel passages. Two hundred and fifty copies of the Bible Society edition were required to supply the libraries of all the Government Schools in Bengal. Since the completion of these issues, a small-print edition has been put in hand, which will ere long be ready for publication. Great care has been taken to secure accuracy in the typography of these important works. Besides these editions of the entire Scriptures, 12,000 copies of the Gospels in Bengali, and 13,000 in Hindi have left the press. The first version of the Gospel of Matthew, ever made into the Garo language, spoken by one of the hill tribes near Assam, is nearly finished. Besides these there have been printed for the Calcutta Auxiliary Bible Society, 40,000 copies of the Gospels in Bengali; of the Proverbs, 5,000 copies; and in Lepcha, 1,000 copies of Genesis. As is well known to the friends of the Society, the Bible Society enjoys the use of our versions free of charge for the work of translation. In a resolution lately passed by the Auxiliary Bible Committee in Calcutta, the following reference is made to this fact, and to the labours of our highly valued friend, the Rev. Dr. Wenger. “For thirty-four years Dr. Wenger has devoted his best energies to this arduous and important work, and the Bible Society has been allowed to make free use of the fruits of his labours. The Committee are thankful to God that a scholar so rarely fitted by natural ability, long culture, and spiritual endowments for this employment, should have had health and opportunity to continue so long in it. Dr. Wenger's work for the Bible Society was purely voluntary, and it is impossible adequately to express the gratitude due to him by all who value the Word of God." The Committee are also happy to mention that they have granted, for the use of the North India Bible Society, the excellent version in Hindi of the late Rev. John Parsons, of Monghyr, an edition of which has been completed at their press in Allahabad, under the general superintendence of the Rev. J. D. Bate and of the Rev. W. Etherington. Connected with biblical work may be mentioned a Bengali metrical version of the Psalms, adapted to native music, and now in the press. Its author is Munsbi Aziz Bari, a convert of the mission. Nearly nineteen thousand portions of God's Word have left the Society's depository during the year for distribution, chiefly by sale. In reference to this the Rev. G. H. Rouse says, “ In January, I accompanied Mr. Kerry to Gunga Saugor, to preach at the annual mela held there. We stayed two days, preached and sold Scriptures in Bengali and Hindi. Many of those who have become. Christians have traced their conversion to words heard and books received at Gunga Saugor. Some fakirs took our books; and it was interesting to see a poor man, covered with ashes, and with hand withered by having held it up for years, sitting down and reading one of the Gospels.” Thus the Word of God has free course and is glorified.
The various departments of this valuable Institution have continued steadfastly and successfully to pursue the objects of its foundation. The attendance of scholars has been better than last year, and a fair proportion of them passed the examinations which entitle them to rewards For some time the studies of the Christian boys were interrupted by sickness, but this passed away before the end of the year; it has, however, left the class in somewhat lessened numbers. The event of the year was the presence at the annual examination of Sir Richard Temple, the Lieut.-Governor of Bengal. On this occasion His Excellency reviewed the labours of the eminent men who founded the Institution, and contrasted the treatment of the missionaries by the Government of that day with the position they have attained, and the estimation in which they are held, at the present time.
• When the founders of this mission,” he said, “ first came to India, the country was in a very unsettled and excitable state. The fact of Christianity being preached caused great distrust and suspicion in the minds of the natives; it caused even a certain amount of political trouble and disaffection. The Government of that day, rightly or wrongly took the alarm, and threatened to deport the missionaries. Sometimes the missionaries were visited with pains and penalties ; sometimes they were hauled before the judges and dragged into police-courts; sometimes surrounded by angry and tumultuous mobs ; some of them even suffered